My Money. Personal vs Political

Just over a year ago I began to really struggle with my health. I had worked full time as a teacher since being diagnosed with MS 17 years ago and was currently working as a non-teaching assistant head. It was my ideal job – mostly desk based without a teaching timetable but some contact with pupils, control of my diary, travel around the county and a great team.

I had considered giving up work almost every year since my diagnosis but I loved my job and needed the money. My neurologist and MS nurse always encouraged me to keep working and I am very proud that I did.

However, last year I was finding managing my health and work very challenging and spoke to my MS nurse about it. I really needed ‘permission’ to stop working. I always struggle to judge whether I am being lazy or sensible in slowing down. She laughed and told me I most definitely had permission to retire!

I was hugely relieved and also excited. I wanted to just spend some time living my life, travelling and doing travel writing from a disabled person’s perspective. I would get a lump sum from my pension and also decided to sell my flat as I knew it was no longer suitable for my needs due to the steps into it and a couple of steps inside it. That would give me a large pot of money to start a new life.

I went to speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau about my situation, my plans and to find out more about benefits and how they would be affected.

Maybe I was naive but the answers I was given completely floored me. As expected, I would be responsible for my care and accommodation costs once I had the pension lump sum and equity from my flat. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was to be told that I couldn’t spend any of my hard earned money on anything other than the basics. I have to live as if I am on benefits and anything else is considered a ‘deliberate dispersal of assets’ ie I am spending my money so that I can go on benefits.

I was, and still am absolutely devastated by this. I have worked so hard all of my life and the chance to stop, slow down and take a new direction was such an exciting thought. I can’t give my money to anyone, pay off debts, spend it on holidays – nothing. If I wasn’t disabled and decided to give up work and sell my flat I would be free to do whatever I want with my life. But, because of my disability and need of care I would be classed as cheating the system by living my life and enjoying my hard earned money.

My mental and physical health have suffered non-stop since receiving this news. On reflection I think I had a breakdown and I spiralled into depression. By the end of October I was in hospital as I was physically no longer able to cope. Grief for everything I had lost in my life overcame me.

Whilst in hospital I was told I shouldn’t return to my flat as it was (as I already knew) unsuitable for my needs. So, I became technically homeless and was assigned a social worker to look for emergency, temporary accommodation and a housing officer to look for a more permanent solution.

The social worker found me the nursing home that I am still living in and the housing officer is still trying to help me find alternatives. His first step was to get me on the social housing list but, as I am a homeowner there would have to be exceptional circumstances. My disability is an exceptional circumstance but, rather than put me on the social housing list I am in the crazy situation where I have got to try and buy a two bedroom, (I will need a live in carer) fully adapted flat.

Even on a share to buy scheme my pension lump sum and equity from my flat will not be enough to do this. However, I have to try and buy a flat to prove I can’t. There are very few two bed fully adapted flats in Brighton and Hove. I have yet to sell my flat so couldn’t even try and buy another if I wanted to. It has been 7 months and counting. I am a long, long way off being on the social housing list. Luckily, the nursing home is lovely but I would at least like to know whether there are alternatives.

I had a glimmer of hope last week when my ill-health retirement was approved. I asked whether my lump sum could be paid into a different account and was told yes, it could be. Finally – a chance to protect some of my money! However, they didn’t tell me that the account had to be in my name. I had a few days of excitement but again, those hopes were dashed.

I feel that working all of my life was a huge mistake. I have got myself in a place where I have too much money to be eligible for anything but not enough money to actually meet my needs. And my money not being my own to spend just breaks my heart. Because of the ‘deliberate dispersal of assets’ news I was given my health has suffered so badly that I can’t even do the things I was excited about doing once I’d given up work. I have taken one trip to London for the day since last October, rather than travelling the world which was my plan.

I can no longer drive and would need a hotel room with a full hoist and a lot of help and support from carers. None of that comes cheap or offers a lot of freedom.

So, I am trying to get myself to a place of resignation and acceptance. I fully accept that I am in a lucky position to have money but cannot let go of the fact that I would be in a better position, especially housing-wise if I didn’t have the money.

I am trying to be a little less worried about being caught spending my money – I’m not very good at breaking the rules! And I would hate to be classed as a benefit cheat. But, I think I’m going to go ahead and research fully supported holidays anyway.

I am also trying to think politically. My political views are that people are entitled to the best social care and full support from the government when they need it. I am relatively rich and need to shake the feeling that I should be entitled to spend my money as I wish, as well as on my care and accommodation. It just feels so unfair that I can’t do the same as an able-bodied person with my money. But of course, those with no money at all are more entitled to the support.

I want someone to turn around and say ‘Wow Nina! You worked for 17 years full time with MS, so have £50,000 of your money for yourself and the rest will go on your care and accommodation.’ But, that’s not going to happen. As it is, my money will probably last about two years before it is all gone and the state take over. All those years of work, pushing through the challenges that my MS brought, for nothing (financially).

I am allowed to have £23,000 of savings but what I haven’t asked yet, because I don’t want to hear the answer, is whether I can spend those savings and then top them up. I already know the answer.

I feel guilty for having the money and wanting some of it for myself – but I just can’t stop feeling angry however hard I try.

But I am trying.

Resignation and acceptance… Resignation and acceptance… Resignation and acceptance…

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Overcoming MS?

This is a talk I gave at a wonderful evening on Wednesday 6th March for an event to mark International Women’s Day.

It was a collaboration between Youjuice and the Syndicate Kitchen hosted at Silo in Brighton.

https://www.youjuice.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/syndicate_ktchn?lang=en

http://www.silobrighton.com/

Anita at Youjuice gave it the title Overcoming MS and I have added the question mark to it. It combines the themes of my other blogs and I have added the links to them at the end.

The talk
I feel sitting here like you can have me under the trade descriptions act as I’ve obviously not overcome MS! I’m in a wheelchair, pretty disabled and living in a nursing home.
However, it has been a long journey to get here and it’s a journey I’m still very much on and have recently been lucky enough to have Anita at Youjuice join me on this journey.
I’m going to be talking this evening entirely from personal experience. Despite having had MS for 17 years I am by no means an expert – in fact I have spent many of those 17 years actively choosing not to know all there is to know about MS – I think it’s been part of my coping strategy. But my brief description of it is that the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath which coats the nerves therefore affecting the brain and spinal cord. About 120,000 people in the UK have it and it affects three times as many women as men. Because different parts of the nerve coating is damaged in each person, everyone’s MS is different. There are constant developments in treatments but they are much more for the newly diagnosed and I do hold hope for the next generation that a cure or something close to that will be readily available.
Continuing with the trade description there is an extremely expert and credible program called Overcoming MS with capital letters which advocates diet, exercise and meditation with fantastic medical backup and amazing results. As you will hear from my story I try my best with all three but I’m still working on a regular, structured lifestyle.
So you would imagine a diagnosis of MS to be devastating but actually for a lot of people it’s a long, slow process to get the diagnosis and by the time it happens it’s either not too much of a surprise or a relief to have an explanation for the symptoms.
I had one acute episode on a ski trip from which I recovered fully and then two years of mild symptoms which eventually lead to the diagnosis. I was warned after the ski trip, in which my right leg stopped working from the knee down, that what was causing it could be the start of MS but it was two years before a diagnosis, three or four years later that I actually had symptoms that other people would notice and five years before I started using a walking stick.

Throughout these years I didn’t change my lifestyle at all. I didn’t make a secret of my MS but just didn’t let it stop me doing anything. I worked full time as a teacher (and I am only now applying for ill-health retirement having worked full time in teaching, latterly as an assistant head for the pupil referral units in West Sussex). I travelled, I partied, I lived a normal busy life.

I look back now and wonder whether, had I made different lifestyle choices would I be as disabled as I am now? I will talk in more detail about my mental health shortly, but self blame has played a big part in my condition. Part of the reason I carried on as normal was the fear of my partner leaving me because of me having MS. But then a big part of me also feels that my determination to carry on as normal allowed me to do just that.
I will never know whether, had I stopped working so much, understood more about MS and looked after myself more consciously from the beginning, things would have turned out differently. The positives over these years were that I I did do some exercise and I had been vegetarian since I was 18, although that doesn’t mean I had a particularly healthy diet!
There were two major breakthroughs in my exercise regime a few years ago. I spoke to my MS nurse in 2007 about wanting to meet other people with MS and she told me about the Sussex MS treatment centre in Southwick. There was an evening exercise class which I started attending and it was amazing to meet other (mostly women) with MS who weren’t in a wheelchair either. It did me a lot of good to finally open myself up to other people’s MS. There are also therapies on offer there such as massage, reflexology and acupuncture. A couple of years ago I stopped going there so much because I was struggling to fit it in around work but recently have returned and it remains an important place for well-being and support in my life.
The second breakthrough was the 2012 Paralympics. It was the first time I watched the Paralympics considering myself to be disabled and it blew my mind. I watched the opening ceremony and the different ways in which the competitors got themselves around the stadium. It looked so difficult and labourious for so many of the competitors yet they were Olympians. It really helped me feel better about myself as I was walking with a walking frame by this point.
And then there was Stephanie Millward – an Olympic swimmer with MS. I was a strong swimmer at school but it hadn’t crossed my mind that I might still be able to swim. That summer I joined the Marlins swimming club in Brighton and after a couple of weeks was swimming 40 lengths in 45 minutes – it was like I had never left the pool. My body remembered how to swim and it was the only thing I could do for more than a couple of minutes without having to stop and rest it was amazing! At this time I also decided to try a gluten-free diet and after a year I had lost over three stone in weight and needless to say I felt fantastic.
I’m going to digress a little bit into work here because it has played a huge part in my life. I taught German and French at secondary schools in Steyning and Crawley. I have been absolutely blessed during my working life to have never been treated differently because of my disability apart from positively. Senior management have always been amazing and supportive and my colleagues even more so. 
But it is the pupils who really amaze me. Once my disability was obvious I would start my first lesson with every new class with an explanation for why I was disabled and what this might mean for them in the classroom. I wouldn’t be coming around the tables quite so much as other teachers and I might fall over (and did spectacularly several times.) All I asked was that they would check I was alright before they started laughing! There were many comedy moments in my classroom because of my MS. I was also used by the science teachers as an example of neurological illnesses so the pupils felt a bit of ownership of their understanding of my condition.
Working in a pupil referral unit there have been a occasions when a pupil is having a major outburst and I come down the corridor. They pause the outburst, hold the door open for me to let me through and then carry on once I’m gone! It gets me every time. Not once in my career has a pupil used my disability as an insult towards me however angry they’ve been.
But now it’s time to fast forward. In 2015 despite my best efforts my partner left me single, childless and disabled at the age of 42. But it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me and I wish it had happened many years ago! Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I very quickly sought a counsellor. I had a lot of grief around my childlessness that I wanted to deal with. I was childless because my ex didn’t want children – not because I couldn’t or because of my MS. 
And this is where I began to vocalise my until then hidden feelings about the huge link between emotions, mental health and my MS. I was desperate to have children and the shock of having fallen in love with someone who didn’t want them had a huge impact on me. I firmly believe that the internalisation and suppression of that grief played a large part in the onset of my MS. There is of course nothing to prove this and plenty of people to discount this but I know how I feel. I had migraines from the age of 18 that were always linked to stress and in more recent years the same experience with nosebleeds. I am an incredibly positive person and don’t always show my grief and stress or I’m often not aware of the depth of it myself.
So much has happened in the last three years, more in the last year and even more in the last six months! Once my ex was gone things changed healthwise. I think my determination to cover it up as much as possible in front of him eventually had to stop and things have progressed more rapidly since then. 
Adult Social Care and Access To Work provided me with a budget to spend on personal assistants to help me at home and work with every day tasks and care. They have been and still are a huge part of my life. I have met the most diverse and wonderful people in my PAs and we have a very special relationship. They have ranged in age from 18 to over 60, some have come to Brighton from all over the world, none have any care qualifications and are all just amazing people. If you’re looking for an interesting and rewarding kind of work it’s a great thing to do. They enable me to live my life as independently as possible and I feel the relationship is mutually beneficial.
I saw two more counsellors over this time who helped me not only with the grief of a failed relationship and childlessness but also the grief associated with a progressive illness. The body and emotions work at a different pace. I have a routine and know exactly what I can and can’t do but then my physical disability progresses again and all of a sudden I’m not able to do what I could do the week before. This is incredibly stressful. My latest one is brushing my hair which this week I can no longer do. 
My blog is called Chaos in Slow Motion for that is how it feels to have MS. Your whole life is an attempt not to fall over, not to drop something, to manage what needs to be done such as opening a bottle or putting on your socks. It takes forever and it is exhausting! What you think it’s going to happen in your head and what your body actually does are two very different things. 
The grief of a progressive illness is different to the grief that gets somewhat easier to bear with time. This grief is one of constant loss. Just as you have managed to accept your situation you lose another part of your mobility and independence and the grieving starts again. It is without doubt the support of family, friends and the people around you that makes it manageable.
A couple of significant events happened shortly before I ended up in hospital for the first and second times, which firms my belief in the connection between the mental, emotional and physical. In the summer of 2017 I went back to Tokyo. The first time I’d been there was a trip of a lifetime with my then partner. It was an amazing trip but ended very messily on the last night with him out drinking all night. Getting through Narita airport with me having to be pushed in a wheelchair, 2 suitcases, large hand luggage, me sobbing and him completely wasted is not something I wish to repeat! A week later he ended our relationship. 
The trip back there was to reclaim for myself the city I had fallen in love with and it was an incredible and healing experience. There was a lot of grief to be healed. But a couple of weeks later I found myself unable to cope at home as my symptoms had progressed. I was in hospital for 11 days and slept and cried in equal measure. 
Then last year after a summer of depression which led to constant suicidal thoughts and self harm urges, for which I eventually took anti depressants I found a group called Gateway Women who support women through the grief of being childless not by choice. I discovered I wasn’t the only woman to not have had children because their partner didn’t want them – something I had felt huge shame and isolation about. 
There was a weekend workshop at the end of October which I signed up for and it really was life changing for me. To sit in a room with 15 other women who for all their own reasons shared my grief, shame and pain was just amazing. The weekend wrenched open the door of grief and recognition of what I had been through over the past 20 years in the most supportive and safe of environments but once again amongst all the tears was a very physical reaction.
I came home on the Sunday and by Wednesday evening was admitted to A&E as again I was no longer able to cope at home. My carers were unable to move me. It was actually a huge relief to be lying in a hospital bed! I was transferred to the Princess Royal in Haywards Heath and put on a five day IV course of massive steroids – the standard treatment for an MS relapse. It didn’t make much of a difference but once again I slept and cried in equal measure. I was absolutely exhausted. 
The physios and occupational therapists came to see me and quite quickly decided that my flat was no longer suitable for my needs. It was already on the market as I knew this was the case but it then meant I was technically homeless and ended up spending two months in hospital while a social worker tried to find me somewhere to live.
It still amazes me how quickly I went from working full time as an assistant head to being technically homeless in a hospital bed! I needed two carers to move me and a mechanical stand aid to transfer. A huge chapter of my life had come to an end. 
On December 20 I was found a bed in a nursing home in Saltdean. I moved in on December 21 so had Christmas in my own room! I am still living in the nursing home while the social housing officer looks for alternatives for me.
After Christmas my body was not a happy place. I felt full of drugs, institutional food, comfort and Christmas food and I was no longer exercising. It is still breaking my heart that I haven’t been in the pool since September and don’t know if I ever will. I desperately wanted to get everything out of my system and started looking at Youjuice as I had been getting salads and juices from there for a while. 
I attended a wonderful evening like this at Red Roaster and chatted to Anita at the end of the evening. We met a few days later and Anita took my health under her expert wing. I told her I felt toxic and she recommended the relaxed cleanse. And there began 10 days of the most delicious, healthy, nourishing natural foods and juices. I felt better almost immediately just knowing there was nothing processed going in. I also knew I couldn’t go back after 10 days to what I had been eating before.
Losing control of what I was eating was something I found very difficult about going into hospital. The hospital food wasn’t too bad and neither is the food at the nursing home, but it is very meat and two veg with a pudding, toast for breakfast and sandwiches for tea. Anita talked to me about it and I very much agree that it is such a shame that the places designed to help you recover from illnesses aren’t able to provide a modern, nutritional diet. It would be amazing to know what difference could be made to recovery times if patients were fed juices, plant based and fermented food during their stay. The staff at the nursing home are intrigued by my diet and jealous of it! They agree that it must be doing me so much good. 
So Anita began delivering juices and amazing food every couple of days. I am eating beautiful salads, breakfast protein bowls, kale chips, beetroot, butternut squash, spinach, celery, nut butter, cashew cheese – everything fresh, natural and delicious! Oh and not to mention the raw banoffee pie and raw chocolate! Plus I am addicted to kimchi and fermented cabbage. I told Anita I didn’t particularly love beetroot and her response was ‘I don’t care’ and then she proceeded to get me drinking a beetroot and garlic shot every day! And no, I still don’t like drinking beetroot and garlic but I do love the other immunity shots and the juices are packed with so much goodness and flavour.
Knowing I had control of my diet and the potential benefits of the ingredients gave me the confidence to talk to my doctor about stopping the antidepressants. They had really helped but I had felt for a while that I was in a much better place emotionally and he agreed that I should reduce the dose and then stop. It was definitely the right decision and I have had no recurrence of the dark feelings of depression I had been through. 
My emotional strength and physical resilience are definitely returning. The toxic feeling I had before I started eating Anita’s food was gone within a week or so and now I have no desire to eat anything processed. I have also started taking CBD oil which seems to be having a significant effect on the spasms I experience at night and when I’m tired. The carers have really noticed how much more flexible my body has been over the past few weeks and I know that that is down to what I’ve been putting in it.
The lack of exercise and reduction in my mobility means that I have put on about a stone in weight over the last year. I know I’m probably not going to get back to where I was before but it has really been getting me down. I shared this with Anita and she asked whether I would like to do a seven day juicing diet. I leapt at the chance! I was expecting to feel hungry all the time but actually it took a few days before I really started thinking a lot about food and even then I only craved kale chips! I must confess to only lasting six of the seven days, partly because I had a lunch date on day six.
I love the feeling of control and detox but my energy levels took a bit of a dip, probably due to my level of inactivity. When Anita turned up one day with a nut butter, cacao nib, date, banana, cinnamon and almond milk smoothie it was like heaven in the bottle! Juicing really heightens your tastebuds and awareness of texture. It’s a unique experience and one I’m very glad I took on. And most importantly it made me feel much better about myself! 
I broke my juicing diet at a reunion with the women I had met on the childless women weekend and the first thing I had was a glass of Prosecco! I did have the vegan options from the menu though!
So, as of this week I am eating again but having juices instead of at least one meal a day. I feel great. I have lost some weight but I’m trying to be less concerned by that than how I feel about myself. I have to keep reminding myself that I am still very much in the middle of perhaps one of the most difficult periods of my life so far.
Last week I sold the majority of the contents of my flat and went into work to finalise my ill-health retirement. On Friday this week I have to go back to hospital for two operations which are going to put me out of action for probably another month or so. I still have to decide whether to make the nursing home my permanent home with my somewhat crazy neighbours and amazing care, or look at the other options which might offer me more space and independence but neither are easy decisions. I am waiting for a referral to a psychotherapist and once I’m back on my feet (so to speak) I need to seriously research ways of building exercise back into my life and hopefully get back in the pool. I’ll never know what my body can do unless I try and do it!
I feel ready to look after myself and I’m so pleased and grateful I have been able to make a start with my diet. It is the best investment I have made in myself for a long time and would much rather have a good diet than prescription drugs wherever possible. There is the dual benefit of feeling better emotionally knowing you are eating and drinking well plus the nutritional benefit of the ingredients themselves to support good mental and physical health. Anita believed she could help me and I am convinced of this now.
I will continue to believe strongly in the link between my mental health and physical health and look after them both accordingly. Once my life has calmed down a bit I will make a concerted effort to build meditation into my life. At the moment it’s in the self blame box of something I should be doing but I’m not, but I will get there.
Overcoming MS is no different to overcoming any challenges in life. You just have to keep going, look after yourself and use all the support around you. You never realise how much you are loved until you ask for help. Back in October I couldn’t see the point in carrying on. All of my worst case scenarios were coming true. But six months on I am starting to rebuild my life, starting with my diet and talking to you has been a step on that journey so thank you very much for listening. 

https://ninaisinhere.home.blog/2019/02/23/youjuice-juice-cleanse/

https://ninaisinhere.home.blog/2019/02/12/the-cbd-oil-voyage-of-discovery/

https://ninaisinhere.home.blog/2019/01/28/im-a-childless-mother/

https://ninaisinhere.home.blog/2019/02/10/being-your-own-valentine-%f0%9f%92%9a/

https://ninaisinhere.home.blog/2019/01/20/youjuice-relaxed-cleanse/

Youjuice Juice Cleanse

Day zero

https://www.youjuice.co.uk/

I have been nourished by Anita’s food and juices for about a month now and am hooked! The 10 day relaxed cleanse ended up not stopping.

https://ninaisinhere.home.blog/2019/01/20/youjuice-relaxed-cleanse/

However, I am still struggling to lose weight which is getting me down. Being in a wheelchair and unable to exercise easily and regularly is extremely frustrating. The normal recommended calorie intake isn’t suitable for my level of inactivity.

I’m going back to hospital in under two weeks for a colostomy and surgical catheter operation and I really want to make the most of controlling my diet before that is taken away from me again for a while.

My life is in a much better place and after discussions with my doctor I have stopped antidepressants completely now which has certainly brought back a wider range of emotions (which is what I was ready and hoping for) but I’m finding it quite exhausting.

Anita isn’t concerned by my weight but wants me to feel good about myself and so tomorrow I begin a seven day juicing diet and I can’t wait! She delivered two day’s worth this evening and the fridge is full of goodness. Let the juicing begin!

I did down a sneaky L1 juice (cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, spinach, parsley, apple, lemon, broccoli and ginger) before bed – I couldn’t wait!

Day one

I slept late today as I’m hoping lots of sleep is going to bring my energy levels back up a bit. I had only eaten an apple and had the L1 juice yesterday evening so managed a good fast as well. I didn’t feel hungry at all so really enjoyed a refreshing clementine, ginger, orange, lemon and echinacea shot and L1 juice for late breakfast.

However, I have spent the last month always looking forward to the next meal because it was some of Anita’s food so I’m having to re-adjust my brain a bit not to think about food. The good news is that eating Youjuice plant-based food has stopped me craving food and getting really hungry. I just eat because it’s a meal time and the food is amazing.

I didn’t start feeling hungry until about 2pm but then fell asleep until four and had an R2 juice (beetroot, apple, carrot, ginger, lemon, celery and parsley) when I woke up. The hunger pangs had gone again and I finished my day at 9pm with a clementine shot and a large bottle of L2 juice (spirulina, apple, pineapple, kale, celery, lemon, cucumber and avocado).

A much-needed very lazy day and I haven’t really missed food at all. I have, however really enjoyed the feeling of being super healthy!

Day two

I still wasn’t feeling hungry when I woke up so was really happy with a sunshine breakfast of a clementine shot and an R3 juice (carrot, apple, ginger and lemon).

Lunch was an R2 juice. My stomach rumbles every so often but it doesn’t feel particularly odd not having eaten. It’s that satisfying rumbling you get when you’re on a diet and you know it means you’re cutting down! A friend gave me a tip of chewing the juice before swallowing and it’s great!

I had an R2 juice at lunchtime and then the wonderful Anita arrived mid afternoon with a joyful delivery! She fed me an R3 juice immediately, then restocked my fridge with a generous amount of juices for the next couple of days and instructions to drink plenty.

As a major treat I have two bottles of almond milk, nut butter, cacao nib, cinnamon, maca root, date and banana smoothie. And yes, it is as amazing as it sounds! I had one of them plus a ginger, lemon and apple shot with an R3 juice.

I am really enjoying juicing so far!

Day three

I finally felt hungry today! Not until later in the day but by 6 o’clock I really was hungry.

I started the day with a large bottle of L1 and a ginger shot. At lunchtime I had a small bottle of R3 and L1.

I went off piste a bit this afternoon at Redroaster coffee shop and had a coconut, pineapple, chilli and ginger juice which was lovely but tasted quite sweet!

I was so happy there was another bottle of the smoothie in the fridge as it really satisfied my hunger pangs. I had half of it along with a large R2 juice. I must admit I did struggle to drink the juice. I wasn’t really feeling the beetroot this evening!

But all in all feeling good. My energy levels are picking up again and I love the fact that I haven’t eaten for three days now. It feels good…

Day four

I started the day with a large bottle of L2 and a ginger shot. I really noticed how densely packed with fruit and veg the L2 juice is this morning. My tastebuds are quite heightened and I was very aware of the texture of the juice. I think it might be the spirulina.

I missed food for the first time today – I wasn’t really hungry as such but really fancied Anita’s crunchy kale chips. I can’t stop thinking about them!

I had a small L2 juice and the other half of the smoothie for lunch and then a large L2 and a large R2 later on.

I must confess to feeling a little juiced out by the end of the day today but along with that still feeling good about just juicing.

Day five

A bit of background to the week I’m having this week; I am selling my flat and don’t know yet where I’m going to be living. I am therefore selling pretty much everything from my flat and spent yesterday receiving and responding to messages from Facebook Marketplace for over 12 hours! My friend was in the flat receiving buyers and sending them on the way with my belongings. It was successful but absolutely exhausting!

Today, I went back to my place of work to meet my line manager to discuss my ill-health retirement. It was nice to be back and see some of my colleagues, but it was another day of goodbyes and clearing my desk.

By the time I got back I was absolutely exhausted. Quite a couple of days! But beyond the exhaustion, the juicing has given me a buzz and a real feelgood factor. Physically it has been an interesting week as well. I started taking CBD oil a couple of weeks ago and there has been a real reduction in the spasms, particularly at night. I really feel that juicing and CBD are doing me good. My body is calmer and stronger.

https://ninaisinhere.home.blog/2019/02/12/the-cbd-oil-voyage-of-discovery/

Today I had a pomegranate, ginger, apple, lemongrass and beetroot shot plus an R3 juice (carrot, apple, ginger and lemon) first thing.

In the middle of the day I had an R0 juice (carrot, beetroot, coriander, red pepper, cucumber, lemon and Himalayan salt). Medicine as much as a meal!

In the evening I had a C2 juice (butternut squash, chilli, turmeric, orange and grapefruit), which really picked me up after my exhausting couple of days.

Day six

I started the day with an absolutely delicious R3 juice and a pomegranate shot. But I knew that I was going out for lunch with friends and had made the decision to eat some food. I did feel guilty that I hadn’t made seven days of juicing but also had a feeling that my body was ready for food again.

I chose a spring vegetable soup at lunch and was immediately disappointed that it was nowhere near as good as any of Anita’s soups so didn’t enjoy it very much. I was very full very quickly. But I didn’t have any dramatic reaction to food again. Just a tinge of regret that the juicing was over.

Anita brought me another delivery this evening and once again have a fridge full of joy! Still plenty of juices but a breakfast bowl and couple of salads. Plus amazing smoothies! Oh, and as it’s Friday Anita brought me raw pizza which was gorgeous.

So, today after the breakfast juices I have had soup, a bottle of number three smoothie and a generous slice of raw pizza. I’m stuffed!

So, my juicing diet is over and I am so pleased I did it! I have realised how nutritious juices are and how the body can adjust to not eating food. It felt good to have the control and lose the dependence on constantly thinking about what to eat next.

I have had no ill effects from stopping the antidepressants and my mood and self-esteem are good. The juices can only have helped.

I feel it was an important part of my detox journey and I feel differently again about food. I am going to really enjoy eating again but I’m even more set on vegan, natural, raw food making up the majority of my diet.

My tastebuds are more refined and I am more in tune to what my body needs. Chatting to Anita this evening she was definitely right not to have put me on a juice diet from the start and she also explained because of my lack of mobility my body processes food around the body in a less efficient way, which makes perfect sense and would explain some of my lack of energy.

The clean, healthy feeling of detox can’t be beaten. I wanted to lose some weight and feel better about myself. I’m not even really interested in whether I’ve lost weight. I continue to feel stronger physically and emotionally and my amazing Youjuice journey continues 💚

The CBD Oil Voyage of Discovery

I have had MS for 17 years and I’m now unable to sit, stand or walk unaided. I use a powered wheelchair to get around and a stand aid plus 2 carers to for transfers.

I take 10 mg of baclofen in the morning, 10 mg at lunchtime then at night I take 30 mg of baclofen, 8 mg of tizanidine and 10 mg of amitriptyline all for spasms and nerve pain.

The tizanidine knocks me out and helps me get to sleep although I still have broken sleep. From early evening to mid morning my spasms are worse. If I wake up in the night the first thing that happens is a spasm goes all through my body from my toes to my hips, sending my legs into rigidity. One or both of my feet wobble when this happens as well. My hands clench and my arms spasm into full stretch with pain through my left shoulder.

My left hand is permanently clenched and my right hand is rapidly following suit. I don’t have much pain when resting but my left shoulder is very painful when moved and the range is very restricted.

When I am transferred out of bed in the morning the carers bend my knees and they snapped into a painful spasm around my knees which then eases off.

I also suffered depression in the summer and was prescribed sertraline 50mg which helped considerably. I have been on a lower dose for a week and have another week of taking it every other day and I will then stop taking it. My circumstances have changed so much in that I no longer work and I am living in a nursing home. This has greatly reduced my stress and the depression has lifted.

I saw my MS nurse last week and discussed the possibility of CBD oil with her. She told me she couldn’t recommend I take it but had heard nothing but positive about it from other patients and certainly wouldn’t recommend I didn’t take it!

So, I have bought CBD oil 250 mg oral drops of 2.75%. I have decided to start with five drops three times a day.

Day one

I have just taken my first dose but discovered it is impossible to tell how many drops went in my mouth! But anyway, I’ve started so I’m happy with that. I would be over the moon if the spasms reduced and I felt less pain in my shoulder. I am also hoping for a balanced, positive mood. If I could cross my fingers I would!

I’ve had a very sedentary day today (aka lazy!), but my body has felt very relaxed.

Emotionally it has been quite challenging and a few tears have been shed so I’m not sure it’s the best day to judge on that level.

I’ve given up trying to count drops so I’m just squirting oil from the dropper in a most unmeasured way! I’ve taken 3 doses.

Looking forward to seeing how I sleep tonight….

Day two

I didn’t sleep brilliantly last night and still had quite a few spasms. However, I do feel that my body has been more relaxed throughout the day and it’s now early evening and I haven’t had spasms yet which is great.

Although my emotions have been very up-and-down today I have been feeling quite strong and positive and definitely not falling back into depression.

So far, so good…

Day three

Sleep last night was still broken but not in a stressful way and I still felt quite rested today.

Emotionally much more stable today and I am feeling generally calm and relaxed.

I did some exercise this afternoon for the first time in a long time which felt great. I used the physio bike which pedals for you, so nothing too strenuous!

I really do think my spasms are reducing in intensity and frequency. My left hand definitely feels less tense. Really pleased so far.

Day four

Sleep was much the same last night – still broken, but I do feel the spasms are reducing although definitely not gone.

I had a crazy busy day today and was out and about all day but I had energy and my body felt mostly comfortable.

I had a gentle shiatsu massage today, which on top of yesterday’s exercise is helping me feel good about my body.

Day five

Thankfully, today was a lazy day. I had quite a lot of spasms this morning but the pain in my shoulder is reduced.

I have managed to keep the routine of taking the drops three times a day and there are definitely no ill side-effects.

Emotionally, I’m feeling good and physically fine too. I slept for nearly 2 hours this afternoon – I was tired! I had some crazy dreams though…

Day seven

My mood has been good for the past couple of days and I feel very relaxed. However the spasms in the night and the morning have been really quite bad. I have now run out of the CBD oil so have ordered a new one of higher strength as I feel I need it.

Day eight

My new 5% Hemp Bros oil arrived today. I had 3/4 dropper at lunchtime and another before bed. It tastes great (cinnamon) and I’m glad to be back on it to see how I feel. It’s a bigger bottle too so I won’t run out so quickly. Let’s see…

Day eleven

I’ve been taking the oil twice a day – morning and evening. I must confess to not feeling great. The spasms at night are really quite bad. I’m waking up at three, four, five, six and the second I open my eyes I am in painful spasm.

I’m also pretty exhausted during the day. I have a feeling coming off the antidepressants and everything going on with my life (selling and clearing my flat, starting the process of ill-health retirement amongst other things) is catching up with me.

I think from tomorrow I’m going to try three times a day and see how that goes.

Day thirteen

So, last night I only woke up once and didn’t suffer painful spasms. Could it be down to the CBD oil? I am sticking with three doses a day and keeping my fingers crossed…

Day fifteen

Well, I am in no doubt that the CBD oil is helping reduce my spasms. I have slept better and my spasms are fewer and less painful.

I have decided to try capsules rather than oil from a dropper as I’m finding the taste a bit much. The Hemp Bros oil does have a good cinnamon flavour but I’m finding even that a bit overpowering. I have ordered some superstrength capsules from Healthspan. They’re vegan which is fantastic.

I actually missed a dose today because I was out and about. Hopefully I won’t notice too much tonight.

Day sixteen

The missed dose did seem to make a difference. I didn’t sleep as well and had more spasms again which supports what I thought about the oil working.

10 days later

The super strength capsules from Healthspan arrived (15mg) and I was so much happier just swallowing a capsule.

However, the spasms at night and in the morning night have been getting worse. The second I open my eyes my body goes into a huge, painful spasm. Yesterday morning I decided I’d had enough. My sleep was broken and stressful. I had a little bit of the Hemp Bros oil left so took another dose of that. I couldn’t believe it but instantly felt my body relax.

I went straight back online to buy some more but discovered it was no longer available! I messaged them and they replied saying a competitor has accused them of marketing it as CBD oil on Amazon (which they are not and which everybody else is doing the same – calling it hemp oil for Amazon).

So, I went to Holland and Barrett and bought 2 30ml bottles of 5% CBD oil (it was on half price special offer!). I took another dose before bed and have just had a spasm free night and woken up this morning again without spasms. It doesn’t have a flavour – just a slight herbal taste. Hopefully I’m not going to find that overpowering at all.

Plus, my low mood brought on by the cancellation of a long awaited operation lifted yesterday evening as well.

So I can absolutely conclude that I need 5% oil from a dropper for it to work. And I am over the moon. I will be taking it three times a day from now on. It’s taken a bit of experimentation but I really am blown away by the results.

Being your own Valentine 💚

At this time of year when the focus is on whether or not we are loved enough for cards and roses, should we not be checking in on ourselves first?

My need for self-care actually came from having to surrender to full physical care. It took away the control I had over my ability to exercise and decide what I was going to eat and drink.

The hospital, the nursing home and my MS were in charge of my medication and diet after my symptoms had progressed.

Once I had my strength back I felt very strongly that I wanted that control back and I knew that looking after myself meant sorting out my body the best I could!

I felt toxic. Post-hospital and post-Christmas was a combination I wanted out of my system. I was full of drugs, institutional meals and comfort foods. My body was craving fresh, unprocessed food. I was piling on the weight and did not feel good about myself at all. I turned to Anita at Youjuice for help.

https://www.youjuice.co.uk/

https://ninaisinhere.home.blog/2019/01/20/youjuice-relaxed-cleanse/

A month later and I’m feeling great! That decision to take back control and invite someone who understands the effects and benefits of particular foods on the gut, immune system and mental health have helped me rediscover what it means to look after myself and be looked after. Good food, fresh air and surrounding myself with friends and family is the love I need.

I may be single this Valentine’s day but I am stronger, losing weight, coming off the antidepressants and finding energy for the world and people around me.

In the words of the indomitable RuPaul; ‘If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?’

‘Can I get an amen?’

And if you’re concerned that self-love involves self-denial think again! Raw banoffee pie is about as indulgent as it gets. Happy Valentine’s Day 💚

I’m A Childless Mother

And it’s not because I have MS or for any other medical reason.

I always wanted to be a mother and knew I would be. I was going to be the first amongst my circle of friends to have a baby and felt confident I would be great at it. I had babysat a lot of children as a teenager and loved it. It was just a part of me that had always been there.

I had had two proper boyfriends at university but hadn’t considered them the father of my children. When I met my new partner in 2000 I was ready to settle down and start a family. I had trained as a teacher and had been working for three years. We fell in love and I was very happy. I was 28, my biological clock switched on big-time and the alarm was ringing non-stop! I’ll call my partner X from now on.

The strongest feelings started when a friend and colleague told me she was pregnant. As well as being happy for her I was insanely jealous and on the first day she told me I got to work and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

I can’t remember now whether I had already discussed wanting children with X but the feelings were so strong. I’ll never forget the first time I mentioned it and he said he didn’t want children. It was a shock but I was good at convincing and winning arguments so I was pretty certain I would be able to change his mind.

I cried a lot at this time and even went to the doctor to ask for help because I wanted children so badly. His answer was of course; ‘Well, get pregnant then!’. I was then recommended homoeopathy and took tablets daily but I don’t think they did a great deal.

If you’ve ever watched the Catherine Tate sketches where whatever someone asks her (in KFC; server ‘What do you want?’) her response is ‘I want a fucking baby!’, well, that was me. But only in my head and my heart. I didn’t tell anyone as my friends were all too busy having fucking babies! I was already ashamed by this point, determined to display the fantastic relationship with X. I had never wanted to get married so had a point to prove that we were strong without it.

The weekends were the worst. Without the routine of work I would wake up crying frequently plus I was on the pill so was daily having to swallow something that was stopping me doing what my heart wanted so badly.

Don’t get me wrong – I was having an amazing life around all of this. I loved my job as a teacher and X and I did have a lot of fun partying with friends, holidaying and enjoying life.

Then, when I was 29 on a ski trip with school kids my right leg stopped working from the knee down. I presumed it was a ski injury so ignored it on the trip and for a couple of weeks after I got back. I kept falling over and eventually went to see the doctor. He told me I hadn’t injured my knee but that it was an issue with my spinal-cord that could in some cases be the start of MS. I was given steroid treatment and the issue went away. Over the next couple of years I continued to have symptoms in my right leg and was eventually diagnosed with MS in 2004.

I did talk to friends more over the years about X not wanting children and many of the responses were along the lines of; ‘Men who don’t want kids end up being the best fathers!’ or ‘Yes, my partner/husband didn’t want them at first but eventually changed his mind’. One friend did say; ‘That makes me so angry. Men have no right to do that to a woman’, but this just made me defensive of X.

At no point did it cross my mind to leave my partner over this. I spent a lot of time talking to him about it and trying to see his point of view. I remember once him telling me that he was worried I would love the children more than him, he wasn’t ready for the responsibility and so on… I made a conscious decision to choose him over children but secretly hoped I would still be able to change his mind.

He had a very small family of mum, dad and childless sister. He had never had the experience of young children around him.

It got to the point where he would absolutely dread my friends becoming pregnant because he knew it would destroy me for months. Whenever we went to parties with children he saw me light up with joy and love when I got to play with the kids.

Of course, me having MS just added to his artillery of reasons not to have kids and it was very hard to argue against it. He hated the MS and I pushed myself to carry on as normal for many, many years. That I am proud of and pleased about but I don’t know that it was completely healthy.

Really, I was scared of him leaving me because of it. A friend of a friend whose mum has MS once said to X; ‘it’s great that you’re with Nina – most men would run a mile!’ X took this and used it against me many a time to prove how lucky I was that he stayed with me.

Now, of course I see other people with MS in happy, caring relationships with beautiful children as well.

At one point we did actually try to get pregnant. We also spoke to the MS nurse together about it but I don’t think anything would have convinced him. X was extremely reluctant and the sex was rubbish because of it. Needless to say after only a few months it didn’t happen and it was not going to happen with someone who didn’t want it. We argued a lot but I was still in fear of being left alone and people seeing that our relationship wasn’t great. X would always use it in arguments; ‘Is this about not having kids again?!’ so I kept quiet

Eventually, I decided that we needed to get on with having an amazing life without children. I thought it would make X really happy and that it was a positive step forward for the two of us. We sat down and I said to him that if we weren’t going to have children then he needed to make sure that we had the most amazing life instead.

He was a DJ and spent a lot of time out partying. But it wasn’t all fun – he would be completely stressed out for a week before gigs and I would coax him through it. He would then play a gig, indulge during the night and come home telling me he’d had the best night ever. The come down and depression would then follow which was all taken out on me. I suffered huge amounts of verbal abuse.

We were living in a two bedroom flat on the outskirts of town. Of course, the second bedroom for me was going to be a nursery but it was actually a studio for X.

We took the opportunity of childlessness to move into a one bedroom flat back in the part of town we loved. Now that he was back in town X partied a lot more and things started to get out of control. By this time I was using two walking sticks or a walking frame to get about and by 2013/14 I had bought a wheelchair that I would be pushed in for longer distances.

I was finding life difficult – X was up and down like a yo-yo, I was constantly trying to come to terms with my MS and constantly trying to make the amazing life I had promised myself despite not having children. I worked full time in teaching and my career was progressing to management level. I was the main breadwinner by a long way. X organised his life and spent our money on himself and I organised our life and spent my money on the two of us.

In March 2015 I had planned a dream trip to Japan. X had been sober since January (a point at which he went completely off the rails and I had to move into a hotel for a week). We had the most amazing time in Japan and X pushed me around in a wheelchair the whole time, which was something he would never do. I really thought this could be the start of a new phase for the two of us. If he was finally prepared to do that we could travel and have fun as I really wanted!

However, on the last night he got a DJ gig in Tokyo and got completely drunk. He stopped taking the antidepressants that night and a week after we landed he told me, after 15 years together, that it was over.

So, there I was 42, childless, single and disabled. How on earth had that happened?!

One thing I still find very painful is the fact that there are men who really want children. I know it’s obvious but I think I thought all men were reluctant and had to be convinced. I know you’re not supposed to have regrets but I really do wish I had demanded more for myself and seen the need to leave X. I don’t think it really crossed my mind that I could meet someone else and that they too could want children. I had never met the father of my children.

X leaving me was the best thing that could have happened, but of course it was very late to have realised that. I will write another blog about the fun I had dating but the reality was also that once X had left I think the strain of trying to constantly cover up my MS and carry on as normal eventually took its toll and after three years things have changed completely.

But more of that at the end. After X left me I decided I would like counselling to come to terms with some of the decisions I’d made in my life, particularly those leading to my childlessness. My friend recommended a wonderful woman, Vanessa. The first time I saw her I cried so hard I had a nosebleed. It felt amazing to finally open up about my shame and guilt about the decisions I had made.

She got me to write a letter to/about my children and read it out to her. I shared their names for the first time – Daniel (shortened to Danny) and Lauren. This is only the second time I have said these out loud. (I am dictating due to the effect MS has on my hands).

I admitted that I am absolutely convinced the MS started because of the dreadful emotion that happened and I didn’t really deal with when X first told me he didn’t want children. My body reacts incredibly physically to emotion – migraines and more recently nosebleeds are often a response to stress. I’m so good at being positive that I don’t even realise myself when I’m actually falling apart inside.

I have had two counsellors since, both whom have been fantastic, but the grief will always be hard to bear and acceptance doesn’t come easily. It saddens me so much that I have so much love to give but no partner or children to give it to.

In June 2018 things began to get very difficult. I wasn’t coping with the stress of daily life – my physical symptoms were getting worse and I was able to walk less and less. I needed more and more help at home and wasn’t able to move, shower, dress and so on without help. I was still driving in an adapted car, working full time and leading a full social life but it was killing me!

I had constant suicidal thoughts – I just didn’t see the point of me. I have never really experienced true love, never had the children I wanted and now my life is getting harder and harder because of MS. I describe it as the opposite of grief – that begins to become easier to bear with time although it never goes away, but having a progressive disease is like moving towards the grief the whole time and it only getting worse. You grieve for one loss but then there’s more.

I also began self harming. Nothing bad but the urges were so strong. I started taking antidepressants (Sertraline) in August and thankfully they helped hugely. But looking back now I can see that I had had a breakdown over the summer.

I began to feel the need for a support community around me. I looked at the two most difficult things in my life – the MS and my childlessness. The Sussex MS Treatment Centre has been part of my life for many years. I attended exercise classes there and would have complementary therapies during the school holidays but I had stopped going because working full time meant I didn’t have the energy to get there any more. I have started going there again once a week when I can as it is such a safe and welcoming place to be. There it is fine to just be disabled, have MS but still be yourself! In the every day I think I am constantly overcompensating to make up for my disability, which is exhausting.

http://www.mssussex.com/

Finding a community for childlessness was going to be more difficult but after some Googling I found Gateway Women.

There are online forums, Meetups, and a book. But what really spoke to me was information about a weekend workshop. Every bit of the agenda was exactly what I felt I needed so I booked myself on a workshop in London at the end of October 2018.

There were 14 women and 2 running the workshop. It was so strange but wonderful to look around the room and know that none of us had children. We shared our stories which blew my mind. I thought I was the only woman who had not had children because she had stayed with the wrong man. Plus, it had always frustrated me that people presume I am childless because of my MS. I believe I have MS because of my childlessness. I am not childless because of my MS. To be able to tell my story out loud was amazing, but even more amazing was hearing everybody else’s reasons for childlessness. Circumstance, ambivalence, medical reasons, the variety was big but the grief was the same. We all felt shame, failure and terrible sadness.

That afternoon we addressed our grief. I had read some time ago about mourning the life you thought you were going to have, but I had not recognised the stages of grief I had been going through from my late 20s onwards.

I had never really understood the bargaining stage of grief that I had read about, but the realisation that my decision to have an amazing life instead of children was actually this stage of grief and not me coming happily out the other side of it at all. And the fact that none of the amazing life had really happened with X made it worse. It was a huge revelation.

The rest of the weekend was equally fantastic. We looked at coming up with a Plan B and leaving a legacy. I must confess that the Plan B part is made much more difficult with progressive MS as my world is shrinking fast. But the understanding and kinship I gained from that weekend will stay with me forever. We are all still in touch and we’ll have regular reunions. The weekend was just the start of the process.

https://gateway-women.com/

However, the grief and emotion came at a physical cost. I continue to maintain that my grief and emotions come out through my MS. Three days later I was no longer able to cope at home with one carer and was admitted to hospital. The occupational therapists decided (rightly) that my flat is no longer suitable for my needs and so was unable to go home. I stayed in hospital for two months and I am now living in a nursing home.

I have rested, rested and rested. I no longer feel depressed and I am slowly beginning to accept my situation. I battled to keep going as normally as possible for as long as possible but have had to stop.

I am now 46, single, childless, disabled, going through the process of ill-health retirement, selling my flat and trying to make a future, without letting my anger at the woeful underfunding and lack of provision for younger (as in not elderly) people in need of care get me down.

I am surrounded by amazing family, friends, carers and medical professionals who make my life so much easier.

It could be a terrible sob story but it’s really not all bad! Sadly my dad died in 2016 but it brought the family even closer together and my mum, brother and sister keep the person I was before all of this alive for me.

I started employing PAs (personal assistants) in 2015 and have met the most diverse, interesting and kind people through this. Most of them are still a big part of my life and we have a relationship I wouldn’t have found if it wasn’t for the MS.

In August 2017 I returned to Tokyo to reclaim the part of my heart I had left there. It was the most wonderful and healing experience. A large part of my heart is still there but it is a very happy part, no longer broken and nothing to do with X.

I am surrounded by good people. I am lucky enough to be godmother to 3 amazing young people and have beautiful nieces and nephews whom I love with all my heart. My friends’ children always bring me joy to be around and I feel blessed to be able to be a small part of their lives.

I am a childless mother and the grief of that and the life I hoped for will never leave me but you have no choice but to keep going. It’s the people around me that make that possible.

Youjuice Relaxed Cleanse

https://www.youjuice.co.uk/

Day zero

Anita from Youjuice has just dropped off a whole load of amazing looking food, snacks and juices for the first two days of a 10 day relaxed cleanse.

I have MS. I’ve had it for 16 years and over the last three years it progressed so that I could walk shorter and shorter distances and needed a wheelchair more and more. I work full time as an assistant head of pupil referral units. Over the summer things got worse; I was signed off work, was exhausted and suffering from depression which I have never had before. By the end of October I was admitted to hospital as I was no longer able to cope at home, even with the help of my PAs (personal assistants/carers). I was given a three day dose of IV steroids and physio and occupational therapy assessments. The OT assessment concluded I was unable to return to my flat as it is not suitable for my needs. I spent two months in hospital until a bed was found for me in a nursing home where I am now living temporarily, potentially permanently. I can no longer walk at all and have to be transferred from bed to a chair or the wheelchair with the aid of mechanical equipment. My already crazy life has got even crazier and all of my worst case scenarios when I was first diagnosed with MS are happening.

I have put on at least a stone in weight. When I first got to hospital I was comfort eating, thinking it would only be a short stay. I have not been in control of my diet for three months now and can no longer exercise as I used to (I used to swim once a week). I feel full of medication and unhealthy food.

I have been vegetarian since the age of 18 (I am now 46) and over the past five years have tried as much as possible to be gluten-free, caffeine free and dairy free, although I have not stuck to this rigidly. I have bought salads and juices from Youjuice and was really interested to attend an evening run by Anita in conjunction with Red Roaster. I was considering a seven day juice cleanse as I really feel I want to get all of the toxins out of my system and restart. I am due to have a colostomy operation to improve my quality of life at the beginning of March. I spoke to Anita after the evening and we met and chatted about my history and lifestyle. She recommended the relaxed cleanse and so today it begins! I can’t wait. She has just delivered more food and juices then I feel I can eat over two days but I will give it my best shot! I have just eaten a granola smoothie and drunk a small green juice which was amazing. Over the next two weeks I hope to feel my body is less toxic, lose weight, have more energy, hopefully start the process of coming off antidepressants and rebooting my body and soul!

Day one

I woke up feeling apprehensive about a warm, savoury breakfast. I’m definitely a cereal person in the mornings. The care staff in the nursing home where I’m living are certainly finding my new diet interesting! It’s causing a stir amongst the routine porridge, pie, veg and gravy, tea and biscuits. I started with juice (L2) which was of course absolutely delicious and then went for it with my Buddha bowl. Still finding a meal I would normally have for dinner usual for breakfast but it was really tasty – fresh, green and goodness on a plate!

So, when I met with Anita, I told her I didn’t like beetroot (it’s one of very few things I don’t like – that and wasabi) and her response was ‘I don’t care!’ I know it’s doing me good but beetroot and garlic shots twice a day are going to be a struggle. I’ve done one. I struggled!

Otherwise, spiced pumpkin soup, beetroot crackers (that don’t taste of beetroot!) and paprika houmus for lunch were delicious. I’m so full!

I had to admit defeat this evening and not eat everything Anita had brought me. There is a box of vegetables still untouched but I managed half a box of shredded cabbage with dill salad to which I added fermented cabbage. I downed my beetroot and garlic shot in one! The food is amazing – I’m just not used to eating so much. I love the fact that everything I have consumed today is fresh, clean and not processed. But I’m still so full!

Confession – despite being too full to eat the vegetables I was supposed to I managed to eat a whole bag of rose flavoured raw chocolate that Anita gave me (shared with a friend whilst watching a movie)! It didn’t even last long enough for a photo….

Day two

I woke up looking forward to my Buddha bowl and green juice breakfast this morning. I had slept well and I was hungry. Feeling calm, happy and energised.

Throughout the day I ate the rest of the shredded cabbage salad with some fermented cabbage, spiced pumpkin soup and more Buddha bowl and rice. Really enjoying the food and after taking a deep breath and downing two more beetroot and garlic shots I’m feeling good! I’ve also been drinking L2 and R3 juices which I love. Still super full up, so won’t be eating as much tomorrow!

I’ve been quite inactive for the past couple of days and tomorrow is a bit busier, so looking forward to getting out and about and seeing how my energy levels are.

Should I politely mention ‘output’? Healthy and plentiful!

Day three

So, today was a busy day out and about. I didn’t have breakfast until later than usual today so had managed almost a 16 hour fast between meals. I’m not trying to fast particularly but it just so happens that that’s the way the timings went between last night and this morning.

I ate more of the snacking food than fresh juices and meals during the day. I had some tropical granola pieces for breakfast, my beetroot and garlic shot and beetroot crackers and hummus for lunch.

It was a novelty to feel a bit hungry later in the day so it was lovely to get back to find Anita had delivered the next couple of day’s food and there was amazing flapjack waiting for me!

I followed this with beautifully flavoured seed and grain roast, roasted heritage carrots and some vegan Waldorf salad on the side. I also drank an R3 juice. Needless to say I am once again full up!

I am really enjoying the feeling of clean eating. I went out at 10:30 and by 16:30 I was pretty shattered but that’s very normal for me. I headed home feeling great for not having resorted to sugary snacks or my favourite decaf almond mocha for energy!

Day four

Another great night’s sleep followed by what I can only describe as a breakfast of joy! I wasn’t expecting indulgence during the cleanse but first up was a ginger shot which burns the mouth and throat; a sensation this chilli addict loves. L1 green juice and then the main event…banana, peanut butter and cacao nibs granola pot with strawberries and chia seeds. Wow! What an amazing start to the day. I was smiling inside and out.

I snacked on more granola and drank another juice at lunch then had a major feast for dinner of the rest of the roast and Waldorf salad but with the addition of amazing kimchi! I don’t think I’ve mentioned the fermented cabbage yet but I have been adding that to the hot meals all week. I love kimchi and can quite happily (and did today) eat it out of the jar as well as add it to food. Another great addition from Anita.

I’m feeling good, plenty of energy and generally well. The one thing I have noticed is that I am now looking at food differently. Is it plant-based, is there added sugar, how much has it been processed? It’s beginning to feel crazy that food has to be so complicated and full of unnatural stuff.

Day five

I am officially really into eating and drinking like this now! Breakfast was another gorgeous granola pot; coconut and pomegranate seeds this time, along with a ginger shot and a C2 juice. I had slept well again and woken up feeling good. My energy levels are certainly high at the moment which feels great.

I had lunch on the go but had taken a broccoli and rice salad from Anita with me, into which I had spooned a load of the kimchi I can’t resist!

My busy day continued so I had more of a snacking meal in the evening; beetroot crackers and paprika hummus.

Anita dropped off another delivery for the weekend – more juices as I’m going to try eating a little less this weekend. However, I don’t think that’s actually going to happen as I have soup, buddha bowls, kale crisps, tropical granola and an amazing looking chocolate dessert!

I also have pomegranate shots to drink. I tried one straightaway and it is completely delicious. I feel so good knowing I have put nothing but pure, healthy, plant-based nutrition in my body this week. This is definitely the start of a new way of eating and drinking for me and I’m so looking forward to more.

Day six

A simple but feel good breakfast of an R3 juice this morning. Really not feeling hungry so the perfect start to the weekend.

I didn’t eat until 3 o’clock this afternoon but really went for it with the beetroot Buddha bowl, quinoa, kimchi, fermented cabbage, pomegranate shops and L2 juice! I still have the conversation I had with Anita about beetroot going around my head but the Buddha bowl was honestly absolutely delicious! Am I converted on beetroot? Not yet, but if it’s served like this I absolutely am!

I snacked on kale chips this afternoon as well. They are completely moreish.

So, I feel I should confess to the occasions where I have gone off menu although I am hoping the transgressions have not been too serious! My friend recently introduced me to pomelo and I am addicted! If you’ve not tried one I highly recommend them. They are like a huge grapefruit but sweeter and a bit more orange-like. You have to peel the skin, all of the pith and membrane and you are then left with the juicy segments in the middle. Loads of them!

Today I had a glass of clementine juice at my favourite café in Kemptown – Zona Rosa. They make a decaf chilli almond mocha that is nectar from heaven. However, even owner Carlo’s promise of ‘what happens in Zona Rosa stays in Zona Rosa’ didn’t lead me astray. He’s actually also a big advocate of healthy nutrition.

And tonight I ate a small salad my friend made me of lentils, turmeric curried cauliflower, pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses with spinach. Not that Anita hadn’t already given me enough food – I just can’t let food go to waste!

I think I understand Anita’s beetroot plan now. By starting me off with the beetroot and garlic shots, I now like everything else with beetroot in it! I found the R2 juice that I have drunk before and not been mad on really good.

Day seven

So, my weekend of drinking more juices than eating food didn’t work out that way!

Breakfast was a pomegranate shot, R3 juice and granola pot. Lunch was another shot, another R3 and soup with some kale chips mixed in. I shared a bag of kale chips with a friend whilst watching a movie and we then shared the rest of the beetroot Buddha bowl and quinoa, a C2 juice and an amazing citrus and cacao raw tart. I remembered to take a photograph after we’d eaten it – sorry!

One of the joys (!) of my MS is that I have a catheter. This means I am able to see and measure every drop of output. There’s a good 6-8 litres or so in 24 hours, it’s pale and crystal clear. I’ll stop there!

Day eight

I had a quiet day today both physically and food wise. I was tired today, really tired. It had been a busy week and today was the first day for a while that I was neither going out nor having visitors.

I had a sunshine breakfast of a pomegranate shot, an L3 juice and some tropical granola.

Sonia arrived around midday to deliver my last two days’ food and juices, which I must confess made me feel quite sad. But I know this is just the start of a better way of eating, not the end.

At lunch I had a clementine shot, another L3 juice and the rest of the tropical granola.

I then slept!

This evening I had a spiced soup and an R2 juice. Feeling a bit low today for various reasons but I know I mostly just needed a rest.

I’m already looking forward to the granola pot I have for breakfast tomorrow!

Day nine

I loved my breakfast of ginger shot, C2 juice and a granola pot. Now that my cleanse is nearing its end I am really appreciating the wonderful freshness and flavours.

I had slept until 10 am which is very unusual for me, but it did mean that I had managed around a 16 hour fast again.

I was still feeling very tired today – there have been bits and bobs going on in the background the past couple of days and last week’s busyness definitely caught up with me so I just rested and feel a lot better for it.

I just had an L2 juice at lunchtime and then this evening I ate the rest of the soup and half a box of amazing kale salad with pomegranate seeds and sweet potato, celery and apple salad. More left for tomorrow!

So, tomorrow is the last day of the cleanse and I shall be very sad not to be receiving an amazing delivery of more gorgeous, healthy food. But it’s not over just yet!

Day ten

I savoured every drop of my ginger shot and mouthful of granola pot wondering what on earth I’m going to have for breakfast tomorrow! It is going to be very difficult to continue the freshness and variety I have so enjoyed.

The problem is, being disabled and on top of that living in a nursing home means it is hard to be in charge of what I eat. I can’t shop, store, prepare, juice and so on, so where do I go from here?

I will come back to that one…

Lunch was the rest of the sweet potato and kale salads along with another ginger shot.

I have to confess to another pomelo session this afternoon!

I then had chickpea stew with an R2 juice. I continue to spoon large amounts of kimchi and fermented cabbage into my meals! Sadly, all I now have left is enough stew, kimchi and cabbage for my dinner tomorrow.

Going back to what I was hoping for right from the start, after 10 days I don’t think I’ve lost much weight (not that I have weighed myself at all – my clothes fit just the same!), but it was a fantastic kick start and I am now ready to go for it. My MS isn’t cured, but Anita isn’t selling a cure and if she was I wouldn’t have trusted her with my health. She is promoting improving my health as much as possible and I’m definitely up for that! I have still had some tiredness and feeling low but that is very much due to the last few months of my crazy life!

I have spent the last 10 days really enjoying every bite of food and drop of juice, knowing it is nutritious, natural and my body needs it. I feel vitality, a real sense of well-being and much more balance in my moods and energy.

It has been an amazing experience with the most delicious shots, juices, snacks and food. It really has changed my relationship with food and my body. It was such a relief to know that everything is going in not only did no harm but could only do good! That’s a very positive and empowering feeling that I don’t want to lose.

So, moving forward I am going to stick to a plant-based diet, incorporate juicing as part of this diet wherever possible and continue to feel the benefits of treating my body with respect.

The challenge is going to be managing this diet from the nursing home. I have a Nutribullet and I’m going to have to negotiate the challenges of storage for fresh fruit and vegetables and preparation but I am determined to make it work somehow!

I’ll definitely be sourcing some of my diet from Youjuice – I’m hooked. My favourites were the Buddha bowls, kimchi and fermented cabbage, kale chips, every juice and shot (apart from the dreaded b&g shot!), the salads and the raw chocolate treats. Basically all of it!

Thank you Anita and Youjuice for introducing me to a better way of eating, looking after me so well over the 10 days with amazing food delivered to me and supporting me in my cleanse. I really do feel that the toxicity of medication and unhealthy food is out of my system and I am ready to start again.

https://www.youjuice.co.uk/